Valentino Rossi kept himself on top of the timesheets on both days of the first official preseason test of the 2010 MotoGP calendar, with the final times leaving him only a half second short of his record lap for the Sepang circuit, set last year during qualifying. The rain stayed away for the majority of the first day until the end of the session, but on Friday morning showers kept the track wet until nearly 1:00 pm local time. Although a few riders ventured out in the wet from 9:00 am, once the track was dry, the MotoGP field quickly went to work making up for lost time, especially crucial given the reduced test days for teams in 2010, as well as the new engine longevity rule (each rider is allowed only six engines for the duration of the season).
Following Rossi on both days was Ducati’s Casey Stoner, showing that he will certainly be a threat for 2010, with Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo jumping from fifth on the first day to third on the second day. Making a similar jump in performance was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, who vaulted from eighth on day one to fourth on the second day. Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Ben Spies was suffering from jet lag, but still took nearly a second off his time to end up fifth and best American; teammate Colin Edwards finished seventh after also improving his time. Right behind Edwards was Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, who was looking for a bit more improvement when the rain finally halted testing on the second day.
Final test times—Sepang
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha 2:00.925
2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro 2:01.320
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha 2:01.680
4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda 2:01.822
5. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:02.266
6. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda 2:02.272
7. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 2:02.479
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro 2:02.493
9. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green 2:02.647
10. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki 2:02.763
11. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 2:02.810
12. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team 2:03.032
13. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda 2:03.043
14. Hiroshi Aoyama (JAP) Interwetten-Honda 2:03.195
15. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 2:03.245
16. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Rizla Suzuki 2:03.274
17. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green 2:03.359
From team press releases:
"After yesterday this second day has been very good as well, even though we lost a few hours to the rain, and the end we were still able to finish all our work. We worked on the new bike to find a better setting and I was happy to be the fastest overall - even though this is just testing this is important for me! At the next test we will have a few more new things but we're already happy because we're fast and strong. There is room to improve of course; Sepang is always a good track for the Yamaha so we will have to wait until Qatar to get a better understanding of our level, but we have made a great start."
“We are quite happy with the test. Today didn’t start really well because of the rain and the wet track, which set us back a few hours, but when it finally did dry out we were able to make some progress. We have definitely improved the set-up of the bike, trying some different things with the swingarm. The lap times are still not where we want them to be and we have to work on taking another couple of tenths off on hard tyres, but to be consistently doing 2’01.9 or 2’02.0 laps is a decent pace. Considering that we are using a different engine to the one we’ve had for the last three years and some other new parts that we still need to get the best out of we certainly can’t be unhappy with where we’re at. There is work to do but we have two more test sessions before the season starts for real. In general I am really pleased with how it’s gone.”
"I felt much better today and I was able to be fast straight away. It wasn't a big problem yesterday, it's just that after such a long break I forget how to ride a little bit! I need a bit of time, but it was much better today. I'm happy about my performance and about my feeling with the new bike. Yamaha have made good improvements without changing the best parts of the bike and this is the best way. They have made some good modifications to the chassis and the engine and this has already improved our pace. We don't have many days on the bike until the start of the season so we will make the most of the time here next month to continue our good work."
“We got through a lot more testing today and I can say that we improved significantly—and that’s important in terms of finding a good direction to follow. We were working mainly on the rear suspension and we’ve managed to collect a lot of data that should help us for the next test here in two weeks’ time. We were also testing swingarms and at the end of the day I could feel the improvements, and so I’m happy about that. Yesterday it took me longer to get into a rhythm on the machine because it was the first day back in the saddle, but today it was much better—though I’m not at 100 per cent yet. To have the second test here in just two weeks time is really good for us. I haven’t asked for new parts because me and the team think it’s better to analyze what we’ve found here and focus on that. I’m going home satisfied.”
“I rode as good and as hard as I could considering how I've been feeling. I'm not wanting to make any excuses but I didn't feel really good with the jetlag. It was still a good test because I learned a lot about improving my riding and adapting my style to suit the Yamaha MotoGP bike. It’s hard to break some of my old superbike habits at the moment but I made some big improvements in a couple of places on the track where I was really struggling, particularly in the braking. It started to feel more natural today and I got down to some decent times on race tires. I was a second faster than the first day, so we made some good progress but this is a really difficult track to learn. This track is really long and really wide, but I got to a respectable pace. I've said it a load of times but it's a learning process and every lap I'm learning. My guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 though have been brilliant again. We're all putting in a lot of effort and I'm pleased with the steps I've made.”
“This has been a great test and I'm really happy. The big bonus of the test has been the performance of the engine. Putting it simply it seems they have made the engine with more power and more reliable. Accelerating off the corner was a problem last season but with the new engine it is a strong point. I tried a few things with the chassis and at this stage of the year it is all about crossing off pieces that work and those that don't. We found a couple of things that improved the bike and gave me more confidence and a couple of things we need to work on. It's been a great first test and hopefully we can carry this momentum on for the rest of the pre-season and into the serious business of the racing.”
“I am satisfied but I could be happier. These past two days have flown by and the weather hasn’t helped us to make the most of the track time available. Anyway, this morning we got the chance to find a wet setting for the new forks and engine. When we went out in the dry I could feel an instant improvement on yesterday and I set a decent pace but then we didn't improve further. I would have liked to post a better lap time but just when we put some new tires in the rain came back. However, it was a very positive test and I can’t wait to get back to work at the next one in a couple of weeks’ time.”